Tech Time – Summer STEM Tech Projects
Electronic DIY Project Kits for kids
Do your kids love technology but you would like to stimulate their interest beyond games & YouTube videos?
There are many Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) “toys” hitting the market that are educational & fun. These DYI electronic project kits are designed to give children a head start in creativity, design & programming – essentials in our rapidly expanding electronic world.
Here are a couple cool kits that are ideal for kids, teachers, makers, designers & engineers. They are targeted for middle school or older age children. And, if your child is too young to be programming check out the tradition book with a hi-tech flair.
Microduino – mCookie Kits
The mCookie kits are designed to teach kids about electronic components & coding. The mCookie 101 Basic Kit uses color coded modules – CoreUSB, Bluetoogh Connectivity, Hub, & Battery management – that magnetically stack together. It has a set of sensors – Buzzer, Microphone Sensor, Color LED, Crash Sensor, etc – that connect to the modules.
Instructions and sample code are provided or use your imagination to make countless projects. The Discovery tab on the mCookie.com website is show and tell for projects that other “makers” create.
Legos can be perfectly stacked on the magnetic modules so you can build just about anything and add electronic buzzes, lights, etc to your projects.
mCookie products are compatible with Arduino source hardware and programming under the Arduino IDE development environment. Code is transmitted to the hardware through USB.
Scratch Compatible (Visual Editor)
New makers or anyone that prefers a visual editor can use MIT’s visual Scratch graphical programming tool. This is a popular drag and drop editor.
You can begin with one of many projects that are detailed in the getting started booklet that comes with the kit. Or, you can build your own creations. A few of the quick easy project instructions & code that come with the mCookie 101 Basic Kit include:
- Birthday Light
- Bluetooth Controlled Light
- Grumpy Grandpa Noise Level Detector
While these projects are designed for novices, parental assistance may be needed unless the child has some experience. This set of components gives you a wide range of projects that you can create. The components are well made, clearly labeled and are an excellent starting point for learning computer electronics, working with sensors and popular open source coding.
More Info & Direct Purchase
MakeBlock – mBot Robot
MakeBlock has a series of robots that you can build and program to perform a wide variety of tasks. The beginner’s mBot robot takes about 20-30 minutes to build and can be done independently by a child who can follow a good instruction manual. The mBot comes pre-programed to be driven by remote control or via the mBot smartphone app (Bluetooth version). You can be up and running with initial function in less than an hour.
mBot has a metal body as seems to be well built (except I have a wheel that keeps falling off). It comes with an arduino controller board with sensors already built in.
To “teach” your robot to perform unique tasks you can use the mBlock Graphical Programming language that is based on MIT’s SCRATCH 2.0. The mBlock version has an extra set of functions and controls that are specific for the robot.
While the only instruction that come with the robot is for assembly, MakeBlock does provide two online manuals for learning Scratch and programming the robot.
I think this is an excellent product and project to get kids excited about engineering and technology.
The next level robots by MakeBlock is the mBot Ranger & Ultimate Robot Kit.
More info & Direct Purchase
- mBot – $90.00 (or on Amazon ~75.00) – http://makeblock.com/mbot-stem-educational-robot-kit-for-kids
Lost My Name – Books
If all this high tech robot stuff is too much or your child is too young, you can try a cool traditional book with a high tech flair.
The newest Lost My name book, “The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home”, is custom printed & personalized with NASA images from your neighborhood & landmarks from the City in which you live. Your child’s name and address are also incorporated throughout the story. This makes a perfect gift for any child. The books are beautiful and well done.
More Info & Direct Purchase
- $30.00 – https://www.lostmy.name/en-US